Yeah, yeah, I know… this is supposed to be a Shakespeare blog. And no, I’m not going to go deep-end and say Lin-Manuel Miranda is the new Shakespeare, as some are wont to do (let’s wait a decade or three and see what the complete body of work looks like, ok?). But I am going to say a few words about Hamilton, which I caught on Saturday with the family…
This week’s podcast continues our two-month discussion of The Winter’s Tale. We’re going to discuss bawdy in the play, then review some of the videos available.
In the past, I’ve discussed the two scenes that are the bane of any director taking on The Winter’s Tale: the first scene in Bohemia, during which Antigonus must exit pursued by a bear, and the final revelation of Hermione. There is this wonderful ambiguity in that last one. Is her revival a miracle, a statue coming to life, or has she been alive all this time? Most productions that I’ve seen have gone the miracle route (though I have a hunch last year’s OSF production was trying to get it both ways).
But the more I look at it, I’m not sure there are two ways.
Yesterday, I talked a bit (and a bit scatteredly) on some of the dualities and opposites in The Winter’s Tale. One such subject was the idea that the first half of the play (save for the last, pivotal scene on the Bohemian seacoast) was in the Sicilian palace, and the fourth act (save for a first interlude in the Bohemian palace) was completely outdoors in the Bohemian midsummer, with the final act taking place back in Leontes’ palace. Civilization vs. Nature, court vs. rural. But I also noted that there was a fly in that particular ointment.
Here’s the fly…
In Shakespeare, you’re always going to find dichotomies, oppositions (you know, to be OR NOT to be), that’s not a question. Now, Macbeth is filled with verbal oppositions (so fair and foul a day, etc.). The Winter’s Tale, however, contains some incredible situational oppositions as well.
- Court/Rural (civilization/nature || Sicilia/Bohemia)
In The Winter’s Tale, much like in Pericles (but not SO much like Cymbeline), we have a question of protagonist, hero. Who is this play about? If we’re talking main character here, then Leontes is probably your answer.
The numbers would seem to back that up…
This week’s Shakespeare news review podcast includes government bans, too many accountants, and some more summer reviews. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.
[EXPLICIT CONTENT, ADULT LANGUAGE AND SOPHOMORIC SEX HUMOR AHEAD… SKIP IF EASILY OFFENDED.]
Eric Partridge, in his study of and dictionary for the bawdy in the Bard, Shakespeare’s Bawdy, has this to say about our play: “Cymbeline in many ways resembles The Winter’s Tale, which is slightly less bawdy but rather more sexual. They are of much the same quantitative order as All’s Well.” (Shakespeare’s Bawdy, Partridge, Eric. New York: Routledge Classics, 2001; page 58).
Well, All’s Well’s got some dirt, but isn’t that dirty. Cymbeline, pretty much the same…let’s see if Partridge is right.
Now, I don’t know how long it’s been, but as long as I can remember, I’ve thought/been told that the order of the last few plays by Shakespeare, all romances, goes Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest (with the fourth romance, Pericles, preceding Cymbeline’s predecessor, Coriolanus). But now I’m discovering that there are some dissenting views.
So. The last day. No matter how long a conference, three- or five-day, it always feels like a hangover that last morning. Exhaustion and information overload takes its toll. And so it was with day three (Wednesday) of the Wooden O Symposium at the Utah Shakespeare Festival on the campus of Southern Utah University.
It’s August and a Friday, which means a new summer blockbuster is being released… but honestly in all the business of the week, I haven’t a clue as to what’s opening…but that doesn’t matter. I’m here to talk about what does: Independent Shakespeare Company’s production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, running through September 3 in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park…for FREE.
OK, this may be a short one (at least initially): it’s post midnight, so technically it’s now Wednesday, but I’m still in Tuesday’s wake-cycle. I’m going to try to get some stuff keyed in before: 1) I fall asleep; 2) I forget stuff.
Wow. What a day (so far–I write this Monday during a not-so-quiet respite at a wood-fired pizza place).
NOTE: This week’s news digest is text-only (no podcast)…
This week’s Shakespeare news review
podcast includes Hiddleston and Branagh, Shylock and Othello, aging fairies, and reviews. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.
Here I am in Cedar City, Utah, for the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s Wooden O Symposium at Southern Utah University (enough Utahs in there for you?). Check out the promotional poster in my hotel’s window: